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Larkin - Churchgoing and High Windows

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PHILIP LARKIN (1922-1985) BIOGRAPHY Philip Larkin was born in Coventry, England, in 1922. He was (and still is) one of the most well-known and widely read poets in England, yet his writing and personal politics are also quite controversial. He was a poet, novelist, and critic, a leading figure of 'The Movement,' term coined to describe a group of British poets that coalesced during the 1950s. 'The Movement' poets addressed everyday British life in a plain, straightforward language and often in traditional forms. He was educated at King Henry VIII School where he wrote for the school magazine. At the age of 18 he entered St. John's College Oxford, where he studied English and met Kingsley Amis. After graduating he became a librarian. Larkin wrote nearly continuously throughout his adult life, but he also made his living as a librarian for several university libraries. As a poet Larkin made his debut with the collection THE NORTH SHIP in 1945, written using short lines and carefully worked-out rhyme schemes. It was published at his own expense. The sad songs showed the influence of Yeats. It was followed by two novels, JILL (1946) and A GIRL IN WINTER (1947). ...read more.


As Larkin looks at the freedom given to the generation which has succeeded his own in the poem 'High Windows', he is confronted with an optimistic image of endlessness: "And immediately /Rather than words comes the thought of high windows:/ The sun-comprehending glass,/ And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows/ Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless." Larkin is praising the virtue of forever looking forward and upward: his conception of the future is one of hope embodied in the image of high windows, out of reach and incomprehensible for those living in the present, but the 'deep blue air' which characterises that hope will be the inheritance of a future generation. This is the view of life which preoccupies Larkin throughout "High Windows". He has left behind him the years of his youth, has reached 'that vague age that claims/The end of choice' and all that remains to him is movement towards death and the disappointment of looking back over his own life in comparison with the lives of the young generations who have succeeded to his world. CHURCHGOING In Philip Larkin's poem, "Churchgoing," Larkin depicts the confusion of an individual, the persona, who is compelled to enter the churches he sees on his bicycle rides. ...read more.


Instead of commenting on the beauty of the church, he looks at the roof asking himself if it is "cleaned, or restored"" It seems that the poet is disrespectful - donating an Irish sixpence and then further emphasizing, "reflect the place was not worth stopping for." The poet is for sure that churches will fall down except for some, which will be kept as a chronic symbol where women will bring their children to touch a particular stone believing that they will work as a spell. His opinion is that "superstition, like belief, must die." This supposes a strong blow against the church and towards believe. Philip Larkin asks himself who will be the last to see the church before it deteriorates completely "some ruin-bibber" some "Christmas-addict" someone obsessed with church or someone just like him who has no believe or sympathy with the church. For the poet, the church is the place of marriage, birth and death and believes that that causes people to become fanatic towards church because they see it as the place that marks the most important points of life. Larkin also sees the church trying to make people see natural things of life such as birth and having children as being in their destiny and that people will always look for the spiritual side. ...read more.

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